From the Russian Foreign Ministry
April 7, 2017
The Russian Federation has invariably held the unequivocal and straightforward position that any use of chemical weapons by anyone is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances, and those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable.
However, the so-called red line set by President Obama in 2012, the crossing of which was supposed to trigger outside military intervention in the intra-Syrian conflict, was clearly the watershed moment in this story – which has been so unscrupulously distorted by our Western partners – about the use of toxic chemicals in Syria and then the use of actual chemical warfare agents. It was this decision that served as a starting point for a host of ensuing provocations by terrorist and extremist groups who used chemical weapons in an effort to discredit official Damascus and create an opportunity for the “friends of Syria” to use military force against a sovereign state. Up until then, even if there had been reports about the use of chemical weapons in that region, they concerned only Libya, where, in the absence of the Libyan state destroyed by NATO countries, non-state actors occasionally used mustard-filled artillery shells in local turf wars.
Regrettably, back then, in the absence of a political “order”, our Western partners in the Security Council chose to remain silent and inactive also in connection with the request received from Damascus in March 2013 to activate the well-known UN Secretary General’s mechanism to investigate the use of sarin by militants in Khan al-Assal district of Aleppo. This terrorist attack killed 28 Syrian troops and civilians, and wounded over 200 people.
The militants, emboldened by the inaction of the UN Security Council and their impunity, perpetrated a larger attack with the use of sarin in the outskirts of the Eastern Ghouta district of Damascus on August 21, 2013 which, according to various estimates, killed and wounded over 1,500 people. This was still not enough for the opposition and its foreign patrons, and they tried to blame this barbarous action on Syrian government troops, timing it to the first visit to that country by a group of UN experts led by Swedish chemistry professor Åke Sellsrtöm. There is no need to go over the fabricated findings of the investigation into the terrorist attack in Eastern Ghouta and how revealing they are. Those who want to refresh their memory can read the report by Mr Sellsrtöm at http://www. Un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2013/553. You can also read the studies by American experts in the field of military science and ballistics: Professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Theodore A. Postol and former UN arms inspector Richard Lloyd, who crunched the numbers and took to pieces an account fabricated by the opposition which alleged that the Syrian Armed Forces used BM-14 multiple rocket launchers in Eastern Ghouta, although the Syrian army had withdrawn them from operational use back in 2010 (https://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/possible-implications-of-bad-intelligence.pdf). It wouldn’t hurt to look at the materials of the journalistic investigation by Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, either (“LES CHEMINS DE DAMAS, Le dossier noir de la relation franco-syrienne”). In a word, a fake is a fake, but someone really wanted to use it as a pretext to replay the Yugoslavia, Iraq or Libya scenario in Syria.
Nevertheless, the plans of these extremists and their sponsors were not destined to materialise, and common sense prevailed. Due to the good will that Damascus showed in abandoning its chemical weapons, through combined Russian-US efforts and with complete support from the international community, it became possible in short order to successfully achieve the main goals of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons, for which the OPCW was justly awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
Everything would have ended on a positive note if certain interests, out of considerations of political expediency, had not applied doubled standards to the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. Hence the contrived accusations against the Syrian military of using chlorine, as well as the notorious Syrian chemical dossier that boils down to the allegation that Damascus concealed a part of its chemical arsenal in its initial report to the OPCW.
As it became evident that Bashar Assad’s government had successfully met the targets of destroying its chemical arsenal within an unprecedentedly short time span and under the most difficult circumstances of the armed conflict, since the spring of 2014 there have been a series of planted stories alleging that Syria used chlorine as a chemical agent. The selection of this chemical leaves no doubt that terrorists have learned or were helped to learn the lessons of Eastern Ghouta. Chlorine is a common industrial and household disinfectant that is not on the OPCW list of chemical agents and it is practically impossible to place it under any verification control. What’s more, it is all but impossible to detect chlorine traces even after a short time due to its high volatility. It was in fact with due consideration for this circumstance that the OPCW Fact Finding Mission was set up with Damascus’s consent, designed to promptly respond to incidents of this kind. What has happened in reality, however, is the exact opposite: the Fact Finding Mission has never inspected the areas where chlorine was used.
Why? Because, according to a well-established account, the very first visit of FFM experts to Syria in the spring of 2014 “coincided” with a large-scale provocation by militants involving the use of chlorine in Idlib Province. However, when FFM specialists tried to visit the area of the purported incident on a tip-off from the opposition they were taken hostage by militants, which essentially put an end to any further activity by FFM experts on the ground in districts outside Damascus’s control. This is the origin of the flawed practice in the work of the FFM and then the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), aimed at investigating chemical weapons attacks in Syria, whereby the reports of the alleged use of chlorine by government forces fabricated by the Syrian opposition and “sympathetic” NGOs are taken at face value. In other words, there is no need for the mission to visit areas where toxic agents were purportedly used because apparently there is a danger to the safety of OPCW and UN personnel. Well, then, what about UN Security Council Resolutions 2118, 2209 and 2235 that make it incumbent on all parties to the Syria conflict to ensure unhindered access to places of chemical incidents for international experts. By the way, this provision also applies to those subjects of international relations that have influence over these parties to the conflict, above all the opposition.
On this point, another remarkable thing should be noted. The numerous advocates of the Syrian people’s interests insist both in the Hague and in New York that OPCW experts visit without delay any research and military infrastructure facility in Syria despite Damascus’s recommendations that such inspections be postponed for security reasons, blaming any delays over such “fact finding” missions on the Syrian authorities who ultimately are in fact responsible, within the framework of their sovereign jurisdiction, for the life and health of international experts.
This situation has created ideal conditions for the armed opposition and those behind it for “filtering” practically all information coming to the FFM and then to the JIM on the incidents they declare themselves, which has naturally affected the quality of the reports by both international agencies.
Thus, the findings by one of the FFM’s expert segments investigating incidents directly or indirectly reported by the armed opposition are entirely based on some eyewitness accounts selected by the same opposition groups and NGOs affiliated with them. Their interviews are conducted not even in Syria but in neighbouring countries, where photo and video materials are also collected, all of which can easily be falsified. Now what about medical reports and conclusions, the results of biomedical tests, autopsies and other forensic medical studies? Do these documents actually exist? By all indications, they do exist in some form but definitely need comprehensive verification with the use of criminological examination as to their authenticity and correlation with the use of toxic agents under particular circumstances. These conclusions are prompted, for example, by the “testimony” actively provided by senior personnel at the Sarmin field hospital, which represents the so-called Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). In June 2015, these medical officials demonstrated at the US Congress and the UN Security Council some rather dubious photo and video materials on the alleged victims of chlorine attacks by Syrian aviation. Everybody knows very well how such materials are fabricated following the tragic events in Eastern Ghouta, as evidenced by their thorough analysis made by Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of St. James Monastery in Qara (http://www.globalresearch.ca/STUDY_THE_VIDEOS_THAT_SPEAKS_ABOUT_CHEMICALS_BETA_VERSION.pdf).
Furthermore, the expert opinion by independent medical specialists from Sweden following a study of the video prepared by the White Helmets, a pseudo-humanitarian Syrian NGO established by James Le Mesurier, a former British special service officer, leads to a rather disturbing conclusion. The extremely unprofessional emergency medical service procedures seen in the film were described as follows: “If not already dead, this injection would have killed the child!” It is evident right at the beginning of the video that the child was alive on arrival at the hospital, which is also confirmed by one of the “eyewitnesses,” Muawiya Hassan Agha, a White Helmets member. All of this raises serious questions about what in fact happened and why a death certificate was never issued. Mohamed Ghaleb Tennari, head of this medical facility, considered it perfectly appropriate to present this video to the Security Council, showing that his own personnel acted unprofessionally, to say the least, causing the death of a child (http://theindicter.com/swedish-doctors-for-human-rights-white-helmets-video-macabre-manipulation-of-dead-children-and-staged-chemical-weapons-attack-to-justify-a-no-fly-zone-in-syria).
If somebody still has doubts that the footage of purported incidents, in particular in Sarmin, was staged, it is enough to watch the videos made on the subject by both the White Helmets and Jabhat al Nusra, where the same “actors-correspondents” appear (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6c6A1Qnbbw, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqlvzSTn1pw). It is plain to see that the so-called White Helmets are affiliated with this terrorist organisation.
It is revealing that, in a high-profile case, in December 2016 Egyptian Interior Ministry officers detained in Port Said Province one of the “film” crews that, under “contract” with the Syrian opposition, had fabricated a series of staged photos about the “atrocities” of the Syrian armed forces (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/aleppo-fake-footage-children-five-peopele-arrested-egyptian-police-a7486541.html).
It is noteworthy that amid all of these fabrications and fakes, the accusations against the Syrian authorities of using chlorine against militants and civilians, which were made first by the FFM and then by the JIM, are based on the notorious “helicopter trail.” Only one argument is cited: At the time the incidents took place, only government forces had helicopters the sound of which was purportedly heard at a high altitude when chlorine-filled “barrel bombs” were exploding.
To be continued…